For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fascinated by The Scream? Munch’s “Vampire” bites back –-

Although I’ve long been familiar, as most art fans are, with Edvard Munch’s The Scream, I was not familiar with another masterpiece of his titled Love and Pain, more commonly known as “Vampire” (see image to left). Part of the Norwegian artist’s magnificently rendered 20-work series The Frieze of Life (which included The Scream), it is considered the most important of four Vampires he completed in 1893 and 1894. It was first exhibited in 1902, in Berlin, where it caused shock and consternation. Nazi Germany later condemned it as morally degenerate. Criticism ran the gamut from fears about women’s liberation (as you can see, the woman appears to be the aggressor here, “draining” the man’s life blood away—that old boy Munch had a great sense of irony in my view) to outrage at its portrayal of passion with sadomasochistic overtones.

For the past 70 years, this work has remained in the hands of a private collector, so has seldom been viewed by the public, although it was on loan to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art last year. Now it’s up for auction next week at Sotheby’s in New York; its estimated value? $35 mil. Not too shabby for a painting so reviled in earlier times—just confirms that maybe titillation does pay, not to mention being an incredibly fine painter and craftsman.

A more detailed article was published HERE in the UK Independent's art and architecture section.

-- Rosemary Carstens

Monday, September 22, 2008

What if you could only keep one memory?

I’m on the last bus out of this life and I arrive at Camp Eternity. I can see over the fence surrounding the compound and everyone is dressed beautifully, radiates happiness, and most are dancing. It’s obviously a paradise. I pop out of the bus and lineup for admittance. I don’t know how I got this lucky, but I figure some of my files must have gotten trashed during a hard-drive crash. So be it—good times, I’m there! As I reach the gate, a handsome dude all dressed in white, flashes a baby-you’re-mine grin, and holds up his hand.

“Before you can pass through these gates to eternity, you must choose a single memory to retain—everything else will be erased forever. You have one hour to choose.”

WHOA. Tough assignment. What would YOU choose? What one memory would you cling to above all others? Other than the births of children or weddings days, which we'll say are givens.

This is the premise of 100 an imaginative, original play by Christopher Heimann, Neil Monaghan, and Diene Petterle, published by
Nick Hern Books, a specialized UK company that publishes plays, screenplays, and theaterbooks. NHB is a great source for scripts of any number of fascinating productions should you be in the market.

100 and the company's subsequent presentation Food, about Frank Byrne, a top chef with only one ambition in life—to win the coveted third Michelin star for his restaurant, were performed by the imaginary body, an award-winning theater and film company. They “are interested in creating theatre and film with a focus on playful visual styles, often using magical realism to stretch the boundaries between reality and fiction.” Both of these plays have received special recognition and have been published by Nick Hern Books. You can learn more about the theater company and their interpretations at

I’m fascinated by this premise and find it’s not easy to choose just one out of a lifetime of memories, but lots of fun to think about. I’d love to hear what YOUR response would be when you end up just this side of heaven??

--Rosemary Carstens

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mangos, Mali, and an Inspiring Midwife

Once in awhile I come across a book that should be on everyone’s “must read” list. Kris Holloway’s Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali is such a book. Unfortunately it was published by a small educational press—Waveland Press—and I couldn’t even find it on their website because everything is listed by academic discipline and there is no search function. I say “unfortunately” not because I have anything against Waveland Press—I don’t—and at least they had the wisdom to publish this book, but in today’s extremely competitive publishing industry it is essential to have some market-saavy promotional tools to draw attention to special books that might otherwise just fade away.

Author Kris Holloway spent two years as a Peace Corp volunteer in 1989-1991, in the small village of Nampossela in Mali, West Africa. Her hostess, 24-year-old Monique Dembele, ran the village medical clinic and served as midwife to the community. In a region where most women are married by the age of 18 and have 7 children on average, maternity mortality rates are among the highest in the world. In this world of mud huts, complicated cultural and religious customs, and little material resources, Holloway spent her days and nights at Monique’s side learning how to make do with little, the realities of childbirth when faced head on, the natural beauty of a night sky without electricity to dim its display, and the amazing bond that can build between two women from extremely different backgrounds. It is a unique and moving tale of friendship and love that you will long remember. If you enjoyed Three Cups of Tea, you will LOVE Monique!

The good news is that you CAN find Monique and the Mango Rains on major bookselling sites and, hopefully, on their shelves. Let’s lend our efforts to making this book the bestseller it deserves to be.

Happy reading! Rosemary Carstens

For more about the author, the book, and Mali:
To listen to NPR’s Robin Young interview with the author: http://www.here-now.org/shows/2007/01/20070122_17.asp

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Painting a Life – Frida Lives On

I just got back from a trip to the west coast to do some research. While there, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit museums and see some fantastic art. One highlight was an overnight in San Francisco during one of the nicest times of the year—the city was sparkling! I went first to see the Museum of Modern Art’s Frida Kahlo exhibit, organized by Kahlo biographer and art historian Hayden Herrera.

Frida has become a cult figure, a symbol of intimate personal expression in the arts. But during her lifetime, she was known mainly as the eccentric wife of the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. She was known to “dabble” in painting, to dress in traditional Tehuana clothing, and to have suffered a dreadful accident early in life that eventually resulted in her early death at age 47. It is only in the last twenty-some years that her paintings began to develop a following and she and her life came into the spotlight. On the coat tails of the Herrera biography in 1983 (since reprinted numerous times), came more books, more research, about her art, her life, and her audacious lifestyle. A few years ago, Selma Hayek made a wildly popular movie about her. And, once again, with this exhibition of about fifty of her paintings plus many photographs with Diego, family, and friends, her fan base swells.

The MOMA exhibition is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1907 and it’s the last stop for this amazing collection of paintings and photographs. There is still time to catch it as it will be there until September 28th. I spent hours absorbing the breadth and quality of Frida’s work—many of the paintings have not previously been available for public view—and carefully examining each photograph. Many times, what we see in articles about Frida are her less-refined depictions of her physical trials and her marital troubles. What is apparent in this exhibition is how technically skilled she was, as evidenced in her beautifully and exotically rendered paintings. For me, it was a thrill I’ll not soon forget!

--Rosemary Carstens